Monday, November 19, 2007

A Few More Thoughts...

On Saturday I posted a quick little summary and link to an article about Misty Brook Farm in Massachusetts. The article came from the New Farm website, which I check periodically to see if they have any articles of interest up. I don't know exactly what it was, but this article really struck a chord with me and got me pretty excited about farming possibilities. Maybe it was the success they have had, maybe it was the way they were doing things, maybe it was the type of things they are doing, or maybe it was something else. All I know is that the article made me pretty excited so I thought I would share a few things that I really appreciated.

To me, the opening sentence speaks volumes. "To start with something small and build it up is a skill that many possess but few have the will to cultivate." I have never really thought about it exactly like that before, but it does seem to make a bit of sense. Many people have the tools and skill to get something going and grow it into something great, but what they don't have is the will (passion, desire, strength, faith, whatever...) to see it through to that great growth. Brendan Holmes and Katia Clemmer started out with some great things. They had an education (I'm working on that), experience (slowly finding some), and a pitchfork ... wheelbarrow ... and pickup truck (got it, got it, and would love to have it!). But, the greatest thing that they had was the perseverance to stick with their farm, set attainable goals, and work hard. Those last three things are not always easy for everyone to grasp. As we contemplate a transition to a farm life and work, I believe those intangibles, perseverance, goals, and hard work will be the most important thing we can have.

Another point that came across loud and clear to me in the article is that this couple did not start out as "landed gentry" wanting to make a move back to the land. They began by renting land, losing land they had rented, finding more land to rent, and then adding rented land as their herds and operations grew. So often I hear people putting down authors like Joel Salatin, Allan Nation, or Gene Logsdon because they believe the only reason those people are able to make it work is because they have large outside sources of income or they inherited all the land that makes it possible for them to land in the financial black. But, this couple didn't have any of that to begin with. In fact if you read the article you will see that they had to persevere through a few land difficulties. They were able to do it, and they were able to succeed.

One of the last things that I really took away from the article is how diversified they have become in a short while. Their farm produces beef, veal, raw milk, raw cream, pork, lamb, and vegetables. Plus, at their on farm store they sell another local farm's poultry. They have a small hay operation to provide for their livestock, they use a couple Morgan horses for some of their equipment work, and they are doing all of this while adding a new baby to the family. While this all seems like a romantic picture of the farm life, I think it is an equally beautiful picture of what is possible when you tackle a farm business in the correct way. I have a feeling they will continue to succeed because of the intangible that they possess and because of the way they have diversified their farm and not put all of their eggs in one basket.

If you want to find out more about their farm, or if the pictures on this post and the one below intrigue you, I encourage you to check out this LINK. You will have to scroll down to until you see "Misty Brook Farm" listed, but then you will find their address, number, and e-mail address. If you are in their part of the country I think you should check them out!


Steven said...

I love seeing that they use a team of horses for working on their farm.
I'd love to do some horse working on my farm some day and although I don't have any crops or cattle yet (we're getting 25 day old chicks tomorrow morning) I do have a few horses. I really got to love the Haflinger horse and ended up breeding our Quarab (Arabian and Quarter horse mix) to a Haflinger a couple of years ago. I love her, but so far she's not as stocky as I'd like so I'm starting to want to breed her to another big Haflinger and maybe get a team of those 3/4 Haflingers someday.... all dreaming.
My second time to have her in the cart is posted on youtube
There's also some footage from Horse progress days 2007 in my other videos.

Ethan Book said...

I agree, seeing those horses working the fields is quite the sight! That is one of the nice things about having the farm in amongst the Amish, you get to see it happening a bit more than normal. Also, thanks for the link to the video, pretty cool.

Walter Jeffries said...

"To start with something small and build it up is a skill that many possess but few have the will to cultivate."

That is something my wife and I have talked of often. We see people who start big with half million or million dollar bankrolls and then in six months, a year or so they're in trouble. It amazes us how much money they put into their projects. One of the universal characteristics we identify in these people is they're all stress puppies.

We've done the opposite, growing slowly and expanding as we feel our way along, figuring out what we're good at and what we're not. Yes, it is slower but the risk is much smaller and the stress is a heck of a lot less.

G[r]o[w] slowly.

Ethan Book said...

Walter- I really appreciate your comments and the sound wisdom you give! I have been looking back at some of your older posts regarding winter chicken housing and I think you will be some inspiration for me this winter and in a blog post soon to come. Thanks for sharing your life and experiences with us through the web.

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